CFB Playoff: What the Selection Committee should do and will do

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

When the next-to-last CFB Playoff rankings are released Tuesday night, the top four teams will be no surprise. They will be in order, Georgia, Michigan, TCU and Southern Cal.

All the mystery for Tuesday is how the committee will rank Ohio State and Alabama. The Buckeyes and the Crimson Tide will be in the top six, but no one knows in what order. If Alabama is at No. 6, it will have almost no chance to make the final four on Sunday.

On the other hand, the team at No. 5 will make the final four if USC loses to Utah – again. The No. 5 team might get in if USC wins and TCU loses, but short of a bad loss to Kansas State, the Horned Frogs will likely hold onto the fourth slot.

Before addressing what the Selection Committee should do and will do, let’s review how the group works.

The Selection Committee has an established process for ranking the teams. Not much is written about the process details, though they are published on the CFB Playoff site.

What is talked about over and over are the criteria used by the committee to evaluate teams. Years ago, the task was relatively simple, because the goal was to select the four best teams.

Having to defend its choices so frequently has required the committee to explain more. The explanations can be vague and from season to season, the committee has appeared to contradict itself.

The contradictions and vagueness have led fans to conclude the committee makes too many subjective decisions.

Countering the subjectivity complaints the committee most frequently says it ranks teams by strength of schedule (SOS), results against Top 25 teams, results vs. common opponents, head-to-head results and conference championships. There is no ranking in the importance of the selection criteria.

How the committee conducts its voting is no ad-hoc process. The voting process is defined in full detail by the committee. The details are too long to insert into this post but can be read by clicking here.

What Alabama fans can expect from the CFB Playoff Selection Committee

Credible arguments can be made for both Ohio State and Alabama to be No. 5. The Buckeyes have only one loss to expected to be No. 2 Michigan. Alabama’s two losses are to a now three-loss LSU team and two-loss Tennessee, neither of which will be ranked in the top six.

Ohio State’s best win is over Penn State. The Nittany Lions, currently No. 8 in the AP Poll, will be ranked higher than the Tide’s best win, whether it remains Ole Miss or is Texas. In the AP Poll the Rebels are unranked and the Longhorns are No. 21.

Alabama beat the Longhorns in Austin and Ohio State beat PSU in State College.

Based on the ESPN FPI, the SOS for Alabama is No. 8 and Ohio State is No. 34.

Alabama lost by four points in two SEC road games. Ohio State lost by 22 points at home.

dark. Next. Bowl Game Probabilities

The CFB Selection Committee has a tough choice. What they should do is rank Alabama Football No. 5 and Ohio State No. 6. What I expect them to do is the opposite.